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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yushchenko Considers Coalition With Foes

Itar-TassAngry supporters of rival factions in Ukraine's gridlocked parliament protesting on Wednesday on the streets of Kiev.
KIEV -- Rival tent camps sprouted throughout Kiev on Wednesday as Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko scrambled to find a way out of the crisis sparked by the creation of a pro-Russian parliamentary coalition headed by his former Orange Revolution rival.

Yushchenko appeared to be leaning toward uniting his party with the newly formed coalition, on condition that Viktor Yanukovych remove his bid to become prime minister.

"The president said the candidate for prime minister must have the potential to consolidate Ukrainian society," said Ivan Vasyunik, Yushchenko's deputy chief-of-staff, when asked if the president would support Yanukovych.

The pro-Russian coalition combines Yanukovych's pro-Russian party, which won the most votes in the March parliamentary elections, with the Communists and the Socialists. It was formed after Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz abandoned his former Orange Revolution allies, saying their constant bickering would have spelled doom for a new government led by them. The new coalition, which would control at least 236 seats in the 450-member parliament, immediately proposed Yanukovych to become prime minister.

A government led by the three parties would likely draw Ukraine back under Moscow's influence and obstruct Yushchenko's goal of bringing the nation of 47 million closer to Europe and seeking NATO and EU membership.

Yushchenko, a one-time opposition leader who came to power in a court-ordered revote after the 2004 Orange Revolution mass protests against Yanukovych's fraud-marred presidential victory, held meetings Wednesday with his rival and other members of the new pro-Russian coalition. Yanukovych's Party of Regions said in a statement that the talks were aimed at "widening the coalition." Senior members of Yushchenko's party were also participating in the closed-doors talks.

Meanwhile, about 30 tents -- including three large, military-style tents -- were put up in Independence Square under the bright yellow flags of Pora, the youth group that helped galvanize protesters in support of Yushchenko less than two years ago. About 1,000 of Yanukovych's supporters also set up tents in a park near the parliament.

The European Union on Wednesday issued a statement saying Ukraine was "in a story state," Reuters reported.